The way the last few years, much less this ravaging MF’er beast of year 2020 is going, I feel like my Instagram could just turn into some sort of sad digital requiem. So many losses, influences gone, madness and social reckonings – that I can’t keep up. I don’t have the literal capacity to keep up. I don’t want to keep up. I’m so fucking far behind in my awareness of grieving this past decades long year. I don’t have the capacity. You don’t either – and you’re lying to yourself if you do. It’s a struggle for me to view life and events through the lens of ‘how to post about it.’ I curiously admire and am equally confused by people who do. I’m just not wired that way and posting sometimes feels almost disrespectful to the moment and undercuts the presence of mind to simply sit with the gratitude or grief and not ponder the camera angle or the hashtags.
That being said: Teaching music and guitar for over 15 years between between gigging, I have encountered about every Van Halen song there is and have spent thousands of hours delving into their songs and Eddie’s inimitable ‘brown sound’ solos and tried to teach it to the future of America’s guitar playing youth at the time. It was a joy and an insane undertaking of frustration and no doubt countless amounts of missed notes. Whenever a student was ready to tackle something from the EVH catalog, I shivered inside and probably smiled wide on the outside. I remember one particularly observant student questioning my attempt at that damn descending Eruption lick somewhere around measure 17 or 18. He couldn’t play it yet, but he could sure hear that I didn’t have it either. And he was right. Jerk. It’s hard to even play wrong notes as fast as Eddie. But I can look back at the sheer pleasure and determination of all those lessons where we analyzed Eddie’s licks and impossible solos by ear. There’s plenty that we never got right. But the attempts, the failing and the digging was just as much of a reward as the outcome.
These were not lessons that you’d take home and play for your grandmother, like carols around the tree. No, this was white knuckled, ear bending guitar madness that felt like standing at the base of Kilimanjaro holding dental floss. You can’t play like Eddie. Sure, you can play along and imitate…but we’ll never play like Eddie. Tabbing out all those Van Halen parts was an intimate, mystical way of knowing Eddie somehow and his sheer genius and talent – even though we’ve never met in this life. If you haven’t spent hours wearing out your vinyl or rewinding your cassette of their self-titled debut, trying to figure out this or that or just simply wondering what the hell you were hearing coming out of your speakers in the early 80’s, then this post probably isn’t for you. I send love and light to his family and friends and am thankful for the encounters with his gift that I’ve been fortunate enough to have. Shred In Peace, Eddie.